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The Refiner's Fire - It's Purpose and Power

The Refiner's Fire - It's Purpose and Power

"But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap." Malachi 3:2

Experiencing the refining fire of God is very difficult, but it's a necessary part of life. As we grow in our prayer lives, God subdues our flesh life in a deeper way. Stripping the soul of its power is not easy, but we need this if God is to bring forth resurrection life through us. He must allow brokenness to remove our fleshly strength and our own selfish ways of handling life. We all know how hard this can be. Our hearts may not be yielded in certain areas, and difficulties will bring us to a deeper surrender to God’s ways. 

What is the Refiner's Fire?

Matthew Henry's Commentary on Malachi teaches us that "Christ by his gospel shall purify and reform his church, and by his Spirit working with it shall regenerate and cleanse particular souls; for to this end he gave himself for the church, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word (Eph. 5:26) and purify to himself a peculiar people, Tit. 2:14 . Christ is the great refiner. 

He will purge them with fire, as gold and silver are purged, for he baptizes with the Holy Ghost and with fire (Mt. 3:11), with the Holy Ghost working like fire. He will purge them by afflictions and manifold temptations, that the trial of their faith may be found to praise and honor. He will purge them so as to make them a precious people to himself. (Matthew Henry Complete Bible Commentary)

Suffering is perhaps the quickest way to grow spiritually. Most of us would testify that our times of greatest spiritual growth have been when we were in the fire of trials and difficulty. The key to suffering is to handle it correctly when it comes.

I remember being ill for two weeks with the flu. Like all of you, I hate illness. But God used it to bring me to a deeper level of brokenness. I wanted to grow in my understanding of God, so during that time I asked Him: “What do you want to teach me? How can I grow through this time of suffering?”

In order for God to train us in His ways, He permits His fire to consume us. This fire causes us to die more to ourselves so that He can live more fully through us. Sickness was hard for me, but I believe that in the end God used it for my advantage. The difficult circumstances you face, if handled well, will make you a winner in the end

It’s never easy to go through difficulty because we have to wrestle through to a changed understanding of God. I had been reading the book of Job. He was blameless and upright, and terrible trials hit his life and his family. Imagine losing almost everything! Job survived this terrible experience and never gave up his faith or trust in God.

If we follow his example, we can also persevere until our deliverance comes. God did not immediately answer Job's prayers. He was in the refiner's fire of difficulty for a long time. But in the end, God blessed Job in a far greater way than anyone could imagine. Sometimes we face unanswered prayer and persistent trials as God chooses to refine our character. He wants to bring us higher in resurrection power, faith, and fruitfulness. These are the ways of God.

Why God Allows the Refiner’s Fire

"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:2-4).

Perhaps you are in a time of trial right now. You have unanswered questions. You cannot see your way through. The trial may seem like it will never end. You ask,“Why is God letting me go through this fire?” Let’s look at some reasons why:

  • God lets us go through the fire in order to prepare us for His plan and purposes for our life - We are now in a process of growth because God knows what He will do through our life. Many times God permits trials in order to produce a greater maturity and fruitfulness in us. Suffering is a necessary part of life. We can’t become Christlike without it. God’s first priority is to make us fruitful, not comfortable. Whatever you are going through is for a positive purpose in your life if you handle it correctly. God is personalizing your troubles in order to help you move forward in His design for your life. He wants to bring you to a place of abundance.

    “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters… He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me” (Psalm 18:16, 19).
  • God is holy, and nothing sinful can survive the fire of His presence - He burns away that which is unholy in our lives so that we are purified in His presence. This fire includes pain, loss of control, intense pressure, and change. God is jealous for our hearts and wants us for Himself.If you feel His refining fire, count it all joy because God is developing your life for a purpose. You are being drawn into a place of greater intimacy and knowledge of Him.

    “For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God” (Deuteronomy 4:24).
  • God is producing character in our life that is worth more than gold - The gold that God is developing in our lives is a refined character. It’s a purified faith. Gold refers to the nature of Christ and not big ministries or any of man’s ideas of success. In times of crisis, God wants us to fix our focus on Him and find Him in the adversity. Take advantage of this opportunity to develop godly character. Let your faith be tested and stretched. Persevere and endure through the tribulation. Embrace God’s refining fire with expectancy. Hold onto the truth that you will come forth as gold.

    “When he has tested us, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:20).
  • Greater than my trial with the flu was my trial with breast cancer many years ago. Over the course of two years, I had six operations. Four of these surgeries did not turn out well. At one point one of my surgeons thought that the cancer had returned, requiring another surgery only to find that it was a small hernia. At another time tests showed that perhaps I had another type of cancer. I learned over time to be thankful, but the whole ordeal was a lengthy trial. I had at least seven different doctors and numerous office visits! At certain points along this journey, I wondered “Why am I going through all of these unnecessary surgeries? It seems so pointless.”

But as time went on, I realized very clearly that God was doing something deep within me. He was refining my character and developing my faith. I needed to handle the trial correctly and respond well.

I now thank God for this experience with a grateful heart. I thank God for how He has taught me brokenness. I have received gold. God has used this in my spiritual development and in the depth of my ministry.

If you are personally experiencing the refiner's fire, don't give up. God has a purpose in all that you are going through. He is developing your faith and your character. It is worth far more than gold. He will bring you through in His timing and make you a winner.

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:6-7).

Debbie Przybylski
Intercessors Arise International
International House of Prayer Kansas City (IHOPKC)